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morning opinion digest

Mizzou and race, tonight’s GOP debate, and more

The University of Missouri's head football coach <a href="https://twitter.com/GaryPinkel/status/663410502370856960">tweeted</a> this image with the message, “The Mizzou Family stands as one. We are united. We are behind our players. #ConcernedStudent1950 GP.”
The University of Missouri's head football coach <a href="https://twitter.com/GaryPinkel/status/663410502370856960">tweeted</a> this image with the message, “The Mizzou Family stands as one. We are united. We are behind our players. #ConcernedStudent1950 GP.”

Check out five opinions trending online, from the Bay State’s inadvertent debtor’s prison to the last chance for planet earth.

Mizzou’s football team and race: Smoldering racial tensions at the University of Missouri got national attention when black players on the Tigers football team threatened a boycott — and the coach tweeted out a photo of the team with a message of unity. Don’t be surprised if more black athletes begin exercising their powerful positions on campuses to force civil rights reforms, writes Jamelle Bouie for Slate.

“Given the real extent to which Ferguson — and the subsequent ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement — has energized and given new urgency to struggles against racism and discrimination, it’s almost no surprise that black students — and black student athletes, in particular — have gotten involved. Especially since, for black students at predominantly white institutions, there is the real problem of racial hostility. Explicit actions like slurs or attacks are often just the tip of the iceberg of routine bias.” Read more.

5 things to watch for: Here are five things to watch for during tonight’s GOP debate on Fox Business, courtesy of Alex Isenstadt of Politico.

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“Jeb Bush, who limped out of the last debate, is under perhaps the greatest pressure of all. With his poll numbers plummeting to the mid-single digits, the former Florida governor must prove he can handle his rival and onetime friend, Marco Rubio. Ben Carson, who has been under intense scrutiny in recent weeks over his personal narrative, will need to fend off an almost-certain offensive from Donald Trump. Chris Christie, a once-towering figure who rose to prominence through his larger-than-life persona, aims to demonstrate he can make a splash in the less-watched and lower-profile undercard debate.” Read more.

Reduce cash bail now: Cash bail requirements set by judges in the Commonwealth are creating a sort of debtors’ prison, writes Jason Pramas for the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and Medium.

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“Lots of innocent people are spending time in jail in Massachusetts. And unsurprisingly many of those people are poor and a disproportionate number are people of color. But they are not convicted criminals. They are people who are charged with a crime  —  often a minor infraction  —  and can’t afford to pay the cash bail they’ve been assigned. So judges consign them to what to amounts to debtors’ prison while they await trial.” Read more.

Last chance for planet earth? Is the Paris climate conference the last chance for planet earth? Longtime environmental reporter Mark Hertsgaard finds reason for hope, and signs of a dawning global movement taking shape.

“At the popular level, there is unprecedented organization, mobilization, and support for tackling the crisis; a genuine mass movement, which first emerged at the ill-fated Copenhagen summit in 2009, has come of age. And at the elite level, there is unprecedented consensus that the situation is truly grave and that meaningful action must be taken if our children are not to inherit a hell on earth.” Read more.

Coffee break: Graphic artist Christoph Niemann drew a cartoon coffee machine for this week’s New Yorker cover, but it’s so much more than that: he added a death star, a flip phone, and his beloved Sinclair ZX81 computer. It’s animated online, with java dripping from the smart end of his Rube Goldberg contraption. Check it out here.

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Ellen Clegg is Editorial Page editor of The Boston Globe. To suggest a publication or topic for review, e-mail ellen.clegg@globe.com.